“All right. We should be okay for now. But I do want to check on the latest update.” She didn’t like putting the cart before the horse, but what else could she do? They were stuck here with Armond until they could produce a plan of action.
So they both went to work, sending cryptic messages and waiting for even more cryptic replies. Soon they had enough of an update to give Armond a fresh report.
“We could tell him the truth,” she suggested on a read-my-lips whisper, her mind whirling.
If this hadn’t been so serious, she would have laughed at the comical shock on his face. “We tell him it’s been handled. Which it has. We can inform him we’ve called our contacts and he’s safe as long as he does exactly what we tell him to do.” She started tapping away on her burner again. “I’ll even call some of my other confidential informants to make sure we have the right information.”
“And we show him why we need to focus on keeping him safe. We can’t go after whoever did this if we’re babysitting a paranoid Mafia boss. We need to move him to another location.”
Connor relaxed again. “That’s a good point. If the locals and the FBI can keep his name out of this for now, we can search for the real killer, and if we find that person, we’ll have them both in a corner.” He glanced toward the door. “And an added bonus—we get to live.”
Josie crossed her arms. “Armond has to trust us with sensitive information, so we need to really make this work.”
“I can handle him,” Connor replied. “He’ll come around if I keep working on him.”
She saw the confidence in his eyes. “You sure are smug for someone who walks in two worlds. You expect the man who probably wants you dead to trust you?”
“I’m trying to be low-key and relaxed for the camera.” He moved close. “So far, we’ve been whispering, but maybe we should act a little more lovey-dovey for the tiny red button embedded in that beautiful woman’s necklace.”
She didn’t dare turn to look at the stone-faced interpretation of a woman draped in robes. The one he’d mentioned earlier. But she scratched her ear and mouthed I don’t see how being lovey-dovey can help us.
He flashed his classic charmer smile. “I don’t know. Just smile and pretend you like me, and who knows, maybe you will one day.”
She grimaced and then laughed. “Too late for that. Why don’t we continue to pretend we’re putting our heads together to figure this out?”
“We are doing that.” He tipped his forehead to hers, then stood back. “I like literal interpretations.”
Shocked at how much that brief contact had zapped her awareness, she asked, “Is that your secret-handshake kind of thing?”
“That’s my staying-alive kind of thing. I have to be a carefree drifter who has a new woman on his arm every night. You need to be my latest conquest.”
Josie didn’t want to think about that, and she didn’t want to acknowledge the hum of curiosity and chemistry his words provoked. Now was not a good time to explore that little tug she’d felt earlier. “Don’t count me in on that list.”
“I wouldn’t dream of doing that. Not in reality. Right now, however...”
“Yes. Hard as that might be for you, we need to ramp up the sizzle that Armond will expect. If he thinks we’re close, he’ll be distracted, and that will crack his famous armor.”
Josie conceded yet again but her heart shouted a warning. Connor’s explanation was so smooth she felt the kiss of silk moving over her skin. She was supposed to be professional and courteous while she gave Armond a show? “The sizzle? Like bacon on a hot griddle?”
“Exactly.” His eyes lit up into a shimmering blue-gray as he turned and tapped out a text report. “We might end up liking each other yet.”
“Don’t get your hopes up on that,” she retorted. But she still felt the warm imprint of his touch after she said it.
* * *
Connor paced, his mind clicking with ideas. He was used to taking care of himself, but now he had Josie to think about. True, she was a trained agent, but his last FBI handler had been a tall, strapping fiftysomething family man. Big difference.